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CNET First Look
Barnes & Noble Nook TabletThe Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet delivers a full range of reading choices and media apps--and some features you won't find on the Kindle Fire.
-Hi, I'm Scott Stein, senior editor at CNET.com and last year the Nook color changed the tablet landscape for a lot of people by introducing an affordable $250 7-inch color tablet that actually was ** and was android device and can compete with the iPad and a price that nobody had really thought about before. This holiday, it's up beyond to you because the Amazon has the Kindle Fire, which is a 7-inch android tablet to compete with the Nook Color. Barnes and Noble has fired back by introducing the nook tablet. Now, this is sort of the iPhone 4S to iPhone 4 of Nook products because from the outside, this looks a lot like the Nook Color. Now, there are some definite design changes in terms of the finish and the feel, also get Teflon type soft touch on the sides here, but it really does look like a nook color, but the inwards are changed to dual core processor. There is 1 gig of RAM and this has an improved screen. There is an IPS display made by LG. Now, the storage options are also improved. There are 16 gigabytes of on board storage with a micro SD card slot that's upgradable to an extra 32 gigabytes of storage. That's a big deal because the Kindle Fire has only 8 gigabytes of board storage of which only about 6 gigabytes are accessible. So, there is a big leap in terms of what you can store on Barnes and Noble's Nook tablet, but what the nook lacks is a cloud ecosystem that's comparable what Amazon gives you. Amazon has a cloud music player. They have video on demand that's really great and a real turn up to iTunes, and of course they have their book assortment, and there are wide variety of color magazines that also allows subscriptions if you already have the print versions. There is also a large app library, but it's not the same. There's an android gingerbread tablet, but it doesn't taste like gingerbread because it's developed using its closed system that has a curated selection of apps. You will get some of the big hits like Pandora, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Angry Birds, but you're not gonna be able to get that large variety unless you start playing Rudy, Tudy, Fresh and Fruity and root your tablet, then you could play around with some other features, but for everybody else you're gonna get a close environment. Still, it's gonna provide most of those big basic features and a nice web browsing experience, but maybe not quite as refined as what we saw on the kindle fire. Now, what really boils down is how much of a side loader are you, and what I mean side load, I mean loading in media from your computer as opposed to streaming it on your device. If you're that type of person and that ranges from MP3 files to with video, probably that stuff that's not DRM, then the nook tablet is gonna be that type of device for you. In fact, they are counting on you to make it that type of device with that type of storage. It doesn't mean you can use cloud video of a sort. In fact, Netflix and Hulu plus look fantastic on the screen. In fact, it looked a little bit better than it did on the Kindle Fire, and the IPS display has really nice viewing angles, nice sharp colors, and good definition. So, it seems like a video experience that really holds up in streaming to what you get on iPad. It feels not that dense, but definitely holdable in 1 hand and something maybe you could take out on the town with you, take on a trip a little bit easier than an iPad, but the limitations of that display especially with web browsing don't quite feel the same as what you get on a large 10-inch screen like an iPad, but they are different devices. This is a $250 device that is half the price of what you pay for an iPad and gives a lot of people a really nice feature set of what they look for and what they think of as a tablet. Now, if you're shopping for the holidays and looking at the Nook Tablet versus the kindle fire, which a lot of people are that extra $50 is getting twice the storage, and expandable card slot. Arguably, it's nicer looking screen and performance details, maybe a little bit zippier, but you're giving up those services and if you're using a kindle already where there are a lot of books and hey if you're prime subscriber and you're paying $79 a year, there's a lot of free content that Amazon is angling to you as an incentive to with the kindle fire. Now, while the Nook color still out there and it's 50 bucks less, and has a few improvements over the last year's model. If you're buying a Nook product this year, spend the extra $50, go with the Nook Tablet and be glad for its improved specs and storage. I'm Scott Stein and that's a look at the Barnes and Noble Nook tablet.